How to learn to improvise?

by Han Leentvaar | Het ORGEL | Year 96 | (2000) | Issue 3


Paul De Maeyer How to learn to improvise?
Het ORGEL 96 (2000), nr. 3, 9-18 [summary]

Many people are inhibited when it comes to opening their mind to others; they prefer toprotect themselves against from possible contempt. This is an important point for everyonewho wants to teach others to improvise on the organ. Improvisation lessons can help todiscover one’s own musical ideas and to learn to structure the emotions that comewith them. Improvising offers the pupil the opportunity to train his imagination, to makemusic in an active way and to understand other arts better as well. Very important is thatthe pupil learns to imagine what story he wants to tell while he makes music. Useful toolsare: association (by brainstorming with the help of so-called mind maps) and by using whatone experiences when confronted with other arts); and controlling the associations bykeeping an ‘ear’ on movement, structure and technique. Conditions for thedevelopment of the ability to associate and control are: enthusiasm, being aware thatmusic is ‘living sound’, that making music is like telling a story (rhetoricalaspects), concentration, self-confidence. A little drill can help as well: lessons andstudy on a regular basis lead more quickly convincing results.

The improviser speaks a language of his own. It is possible to learn this language as ayoung child. At first it sounds like gibberish, then it becomes refined. The musician isthe key-figure; the organ itself just lends him its marvellous voice.